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RELEASE: Towards Justice Files Complaint with the Federal Trade Commission

Complaint alleges that DoorDash and Uber are charging illegal and hidden junk fees to every person in Seattle who uses their delivery apps

Denver, CO — Today, Towards Justice filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission on behalf of Robby White, a Seattle-based consumer of gig platform delivery services like DoorDash and Uber. The complaint alleges that the companies are charging every person in Seattle who orders food through DoorDash and Uber illegal and hidden “junk fees” of $5.00 per delivery – no matter how much the delivery costs.

In some cases, these fees can nearly double the cost of a delivery. And because the companies together have more than 90% of the market for delivery services and because they imposed these fees effectively simultaneously, consumers in Seattle have no choice but to pay the fee if they want to use delivery services.

The companies claim these fees are necessary as a result of a new Seattle ordinance passed to provide DoorDash and Uber delivery drivers with minimum pay protections (the “PayUp Ordinance”).

Here’s the problem: the fees are a sham.

When consumers click through the apps’ user interfaces to learn about the fee, the companies suggest the fees are either required by local regulations or are paid to delivery drivers. They are not.

In fact, according to the complaint, the companies dramatically overstate how much money drivers are earning under the minimum pay ordinance. The fees are not legally required, nor do they bear any direct or reasonable relationship to increased costs on the companies.

Along with delivery fees, service fees, and the inflated costs of food purchased through the apps, this fee is just another cost imposed on consumers to pad the companies’ bottom lines. And by hiding and misrepresenting the nature and purpose of the fee, the complaint alleges, DoorDash and Uber seek to manipulate the market to the detriment of consumers and workers and in service of their own profits.

“DoorDash and Uber think they’re special and that minimum wage laws and laws prohibiting deceptive junk fees don’t apply to them. That’s not true. Here, our client alleges that the companies have weaponized junk fees to increase their revenues and turn consumers against workers in the hope that Seattle will roll back worker protections. But the companies’ disclosures to consumers are a lie,” said David Seligman, the Executive Director of Towards Justice.

He continued, “Seattle’s minimum pay protections require the companies to pay about the same to their delivery drivers as the minimum wage that every other business in Seattle has to pay its workers. The companies appear to think that due to their control over the food delivery marketplace, they can get away with this. But we shouldn’t let that happen.”

The Biden Administration has taken on “junk fees,” which are hidden fees that deceive consumers about the true costs of a product, including through a proposed rule from the Federal Trade Commission. This case illustrates one particularly insidious use of “junk fees,” which involve companies manipulating and deceiving consumers to undermine workers.

“I’m just sick and tired of these companies turning consumers against workers,” said Robby White, the complainant. “The PayUp Ordinance in Seattle brings delivery drivers to around minimum wage once you consider all their expenses and the amount of time they work. But these companies want to lie to consumers and charge us more. They want to pit consumers, workers, and restaurants against each other because they know they’re screwing over all of us.”


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